Laying the Foundations of Housing Accessibility 

May 3rd, 2024

Access to adequate housing is a basic human right that is denied to many people around the world.

The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) reports that 1.6 billion people live in inadequate housing, with 100 million people being displaced from their homes in 2022. Homelessness and poor-quality housing contribute to poverty, inequality, and a number of other forces of societal instability.

Challenges of housing accessibility and affordability are not limited to low-income countries. In fact, they are a prominent challenge for many young Australians. According to Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz, Chair of the National Housing Supply and Affordability Council: 

Prices and rents [in Australia] are growing faster than wages, rental vacancies are near all-time lows, 169,000 households are on public housing waiting lists, [and] 122,000 people are experiencing homelessness.”

As these statistics highlight, ensuring that all people have access to adequate, safe and affordable housing is a big and complex challenge. But it is also a challenge that many dedicated people and organisations are working hard to address.  

Goal 11 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals is to “Make Cities and Human Settlements Inclusive, Safe Resilient and Sustainable”, while Target 11.1 of the goal is to ensure, by 2030, “access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums”. To achieve Target 11.1 a wide range of multi-scalar and multi-sectoral actions are being taken. 

One way that Infuse Travel is working to support SDG 11 is through our Cambodia house building projects. Partnering with a Cambodian-run non-profit organisation, Infuse has been supporting the construction of new timber homes in the south-eastern province of Kampong Cham. In 2023, for example, Victoria’s Cornish College were able to work with us to build 3 new houses in Kampong Cham – and Infuse plans to support the building of a further 4-5 houses later this year. 

Construction underway in Kampong Cham, Cambodia where Infuse and Cornish College supported the build of 4 new timber houses.

A student works to finish the walls in conjunction with local Cambodia workers.

One of the new timber homes close to completion.

Kampong Cham is one of Cambodia’s most highly populated provinces and is home to both urban and rural communities, the latter growing many export crops including tobacco, soya-beans, and rubber. 

The rural villages that Infuse Travel supports in Cambodia have been identified by the Cambodian NGO, who consult with local communities to understand where housing needs are greatest. Once a project has been identified, our visiting schools and students work alongside qualified local tradespeople to install flooring, walls and roofing. To help students better understand how their efforts contribute to both community needs and broader global challenges, housebuilding is also accompanied by focused learning activities that include self-reflection, discussions on global housing accessibility, and the sharing of local knowledge and expertise.

According to Cambodian government projections, Cambodia will need an estimated 1.1 million new houses by 2030 to meet the population’s needs.

Faced by such a daunting figure, our efforts may sometimes feel like they are just a drop in the ocean. Some really big systems changes are needed to tackle the global housing crisis, and we cannot ignore the enormity of this challenge. But nor should this lead us to feeling helpless!

Small scale changes can and do make meaningful impacts, particularly when made as part of a larger collective effort. In Cambodia, government, non-profit organisations, the private sector, and local communities are all actively working to address housing needs. 

For students of Infuse programs, our housebuilding projects are designed to provide a direct opportunity to positively impact on host communities, as well as to begin a lifelong learning journey towards active global citizenship. Being an active part of change efforts can open our eyes and our hearts to the impact that we can have on the world if we choose to do so.

For the individuals and families that live in the new homes that we have collectively built, our small contribution to change can be truly transformative.

Learn more about Infuse Travel Programs in Cambodia, or get in touch with us to start planning your own journey.